Simply speaking, babywearing is the act of wearing your baby in some sort of carrier on your body. Babywearing has been around for centuries, and many traditional carriers from other cultures have been updated for current use today.
Why Should I Wear My Baby?
Babywearing has many practical and emotional benefits for babies. Babywearing keeps your baby close and is comforting for your baby. They are close enough to hear your heartbeat and cozy enough to fall right asleep. Skin-to-skin contact, easily facilitated through wearing your baby, has been proven to help babies stabilize their temperature and heartrate, and can help premature babies with weight gain. Babywearing also helps reduce symptoms of colic.
Babywearing Benefits for Adoptive Parents?
Babywearing can help an adoptive parent and child build a bond and attachment. Wearing your baby keeps them close to you and helps you learn their cues more quickly. Worn babies get to know their adoptive parents’ voices, smells, and heartbeats more closely and quickly. The closeness of babywearing causes the release of Oxytocin, the love hormone, in both parent and the child, which helps to build attachment.
One of the biggest benefits of babywearing is having free hands! Wearing your baby will give you the opportunity to prepare a bottle, do the dishes, or scroll through your phone with ease! For new parents struggling to juggle it all, learning to wear their babies can help the transition into parenthood feel much more manageable.
How Do I Get Started?
There are many different types of baby carriers that can be used for babywearing. The “perfect” carrier is like the “perfect” pair of jeans – the definition will be different for everyone. The most commonly used carriers include:
Stretchy Wrap: A stretchy wrap (like the Moby wrap or Solly wrap) is a long piece of stretchy fabric that is tied around the wearer’s body with a “pocket” for the baby. Stretchy wraps are great for newborns, as they allow a close carry that feels comfortable for the baby. Stretchy wraps have a bit of a learning curve, but after a few practice wraps are usually pretty easy to master. They are only safe for front carries, and usually most comfortable for babies 15 pounds and under.
Ring Slings: Ring slings are made up of a long piece of fabric secured to and strung through two rings. Ring slings are useful for newborns, older babies, and even toddlers! Depending on the fabric type, a ring sling can be used for a child up to 35 pounds. Ring slings allow for easy “ups” but are also comfortable for longer carries, especially with smaller children.
Soft-Structured/Buckle Carriers: Soft-structured or buckle carriers (like the Ergobaby) feature a padded waistband and shoulder straps and buckle at the waist and on the back. Soft-structured carriers can be worn on the front or the back, and some also allow for the child to face out. Soft-structured carriers are very easy to use, as they are similar to a backpack. Adjustable carriers allow for use from 7-pounds and up, while others require an additional insert for use with newborns.
Safety Concerns – Remember the ABCs
Airway: Keep the baby’s airway open at all times by using upright positioning and keeping the chin off the chest
Body Positioning: the baby’s legs should be in an “M” shape, with the knees higher than the bum and fabric supporting them from knee-to-knee
Comfort: the carrier should be comfortable for the baby and the wearer
*Baby carriers undergo strict testing to ensure that they are safe for use with babies. It is recommended to only buy carriers from reputable brands that have undergone industry testing.
To Learn More
-Check out your local Babywearing group! Many areas have volunteer-run groups where you can get help with the carriers you own and try out new ones!
–Natural Parenting Stores often have carriers to try and staff to help
–Buy Buy Baby stores have sample carriers to try
–Consignment stores and sales often have lightly used carriers available
–Babywearing International: While the group is no longer active, their website (www.babywearinginternational.com) has great resources for learning more
–Youtube: when all else fails, there are many tutorials for how to use different carriers!